Maya Sahli Fadel

Activities as Commissioner


    INTER SESSION REPORT

    By

    Madam Maya Sahli-Fadel

    1.     Pursuant to Article 72 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), this Report gives an account of the human rights promotion and protection activities conducted during the intersession period, from the 50th Ordinary Session of the African Commission held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 24 October to 5 November 2011, during which session I was appointed into the Commission.  

    2.     The Report outlines the promotional activities I conducted in my capacity as Commissioner, Member of the African Commission and as Member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty, as well as the activities engaged in by virtue of the powers vested in me as Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa. This mechanism was entrusted to me in accordance with the Resolution ACHPR/Res.203 (L) 11 of the African Commission.

    I.       ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED IN MY CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER MEMBER OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS:

    During this intersession my activities focused on participation in Seminars, Meetings and Workshops.

    -          Participation in the meeting organized by the Pan-African Lawyers Union.

    1. From 21 to 23 November I participated in a Seminar organized by the Pan-African Lawyers Union (UPA) in Tunis (Tunisia) on the Theme: « the African Human Rights Protection Mechanisms ». The UPA is an Association which brings together African Lawyers and Bar Associations. It comprises 5 regional and national Bars from the Continent as well as member individual lawyers. Its objective is to develop law and human rights. It collaborates and works with the African Union and its different Organs.
    1. The regional Seminar held in Tunis was attended by Algerian, Mauritanian and Tunisian Bar Associations, by the Bar of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as well as human rights leagues, academicians, lawyers and professors. The debates focused on the conventional and institutional human rights mechanisms in Africa and I made a presentation in this context on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and on the role of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

    A communication by Mr. Fatsah Ougergouz, Judge at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the activities of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights followed this presentation.

    1. These two presentations stimulated numerous questions about these mechanisms. In this respect the UPA representatives expressed the need to strengthen cooperation with the African Commission in order to be better informed about its role in promoting and protecting human rights.

    -           Participation in the Consultations between the Mechanisms of the UN system and the African human rights promotion and protection System.

    6.      I participated in a meeting organized in Addis Ababa from 16 to 18 January 2012 by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This meeting brought together the Special Rapporteurs of the African Commission and the United Nations as part of the process of strengthening cooperation between the United Nations Special Mechanisms and the Special Mechanisms of the African Commission.

    7.      At the end of these Consultations a Focal group was created to develop partnership relations between these two special mechanisms, that of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and that of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

    -          Participation in the annual meeting of the European Movements of Solidarity with the Sahrawi People.

    8.      The meeting took place in Sevilla, Spain from 30 January to 1st February 2012. I had been urged to participate to make a presentation on the provisions of the African Charter on the rights of peoples to self-determination and on all the civil, political and economic rights that need to be complied with even in situations where populations live in occupied territories.

    9.      During this meeting, numerous Non-Governmental Organizations and Human Rights Defenders inquired about the procedures governing participation in the sessions of the African Commission and on how to obtain Observer Status to enable them defend the rights of the Sahrawi Populations in occupied territories.

    -          Participation in the 19th Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

    1. In March 2012 I represented the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at the 19th session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child held from 26 to 30 March 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
    1. This session brought together numerous representatives of the United Nations Specialized Agencies, Organs of the African Union and several civil society organizations.  
    1. The Chairperson of the Committee expressed great satisfaction with the participation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and reiterated her wish to see this reciprocal collaboration strengthened and sustained.
    1. The central theme of this session focused on Article 21 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which deals with protection against negative social and cultural practices and the need for courage to be able to surmount and eliminate harmful traditional practices in Africa such as female genital mutilation (for young girls), forced marriages, early marriages and organ trafficking, etc.
    1. The Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child called on the African Commission to assist with expertise through its different special mechanisms and working methods.   

    -          Participation in a meeting organized by the French Support Associations to the Sahrawi cause and the French Members of Parliament in the French National Assembly in Paris.  

    1. On 3rd April 2012 I attended a meeting with the Theme, « the Sahrawi Issue: Challenges on the eve of the meeting of the Security Council ». My intervention dealt with the subject of the Western Sahara and International Law, during which I dilated on the global international and regional sources which reinforce the Sahrawi Peoples’ right to self determination, by placing special emphasis on the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular as provided for by Article 20.  

    -          Participation in the Extraordinary Sessions

    1. I participated in the 10th and 11th Extraordinary Sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held successively from 12 to 16 December 2011 and from 21 February to 1st March 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia. During these sessions, the African Commission examined a good number of Communications.
    1. During the 11th Extraordinary Session, in my capacity as Commissioner responsible for human rights promotion and protection activities in the Republic of Senegal, I presented the human rights situation prevailing in Senegal during the pre-electoral period. The African Commission published, in this context, a Press Release on the deteriorating human rights situation and condemned the upsurge of violence which had characterized the period prior to the presidential elections in Senegal. A Resolution was also adopted in this regard.
    1. During the Extraordinary Session in February I was mandated by the Commission to join the Preparatory Committee for the Commemoration activities marking the 25th Anniversary of the creation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. At the end of this Committee’s activities a programme was drawn up under the chairmanship of Commissioner Yeung. 
     

    Activities as Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons


      Activities carried out in my capacity as Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa. 

      1. Letters of reminder for the ratification of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) were sent to those States Parties to the African Charter that had not yet ratified it, urging them to do so. It should be recalled that two and a half years after its adoption this important instrument has still not yet entered into force for lack of the 15 ratifications required under Article 17, Point 1 of this same Instrument. Only 11 countries, namely Benin, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda and Zambia have so far ratified the Convention.
      1. During the 11th Extraordinary Session organized in February 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia, we adopted a Resolution on the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing the conflict in the North of Mali. The African Commission condemned in no uncertain terms the resumption of hostilities by the Touareg rebels in North Mali which led to the increased displacement of the populations both in the interior and outside of Mali. It moreover expressed appreciation for the commitment shown by the States (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania) which had provided hospitality and showed solidarity with these refugee populations from Mali.
      1. On the sidelines of this 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, I met several different representatives of civil society organizations active in refugee, asylum seekers, internally displaced populations and migrant issues. During these meetings the situation of refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons in certain regions of Africa were discussed, which in the future could result in field visits ground for the purpose of ascertaining the situation of these persons and the adoption of appropriate measures.  
      1. In conclusion, in my capacity as Member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty, I participated in the launching of the document “Study on the Issue of the Death Penalty in Africa”.  
      1. I also participated in the deliberations of the Working Group on Communications from 17 April 2012 to examine two Complaints submitted to the Commission for seizure.

      Recommendations:

      To the States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

      1. I urge the Member States of the African Union that have not yet done so, to ratify and/or speed up the process of ratification of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention).

      To the Civil Society Organizations

      1. I recommend to the Organizations of Civil Society to pursue their advocacy mission with their Governments so as to sensitize them to ratify the Kampala Convention allowing its entry into force for the effective protection of internally displaced persons on the African Continent.  
       

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